The history of timekeeping and Brooklands race track are inextricably linked, thanks to the development of Motor Race timing at this iconic track. Without the progression at Brooklands, timekeeping within motor racing could have been completely different.
Our Triple-Four Racing Chronograph celebrates the tradition and innovation of timekeeping at Brooklands. But what is the story of timekeeping at Brooklands?
The Holden Apparatus
In 1907 Brooklands introduced the first Motor Race Chronograph to the track. The mechanism was designed by Colonel Holden, who had already been a part of the Brooklands development having designed the track and public address system and installed telephones for track communications.
The installation of this chronograph was revolutionary in timekeeping as it was accurate to 1/1,000 of a second. Certified by the Royal Automobile Club, the apparatus was used to establish official speed records throughout the years and set a precedent for the accuracy of motor race timing.
Over the years this piece of equipment was used to measure many official speed attempts. The Chronograph used overhead wires that connected the apparatus to contact timing strips which were laid across the track.
Brooklands also employed manual timekeeping through the use of split-second watches. The manual timekeeping was conducted by amateur timekeepers who would stand at the side of the track with a pair of Swiss chronograph pocket watches. Each timekeeper would keep track of up to eight cars at a time on their watches, which provided readings to 1/5th second.
To ensure the reliable performance of each watch, they were regularly sent back to Geneva to be tested and regulated. This process would take around 3 months each time.
The manual timekeepers also had a timekeeping hut on the course.
The timekeepers were both chronograph and split-second watches. Each watch had two second hands; one hand would move to measure time passing, and the other was stopped when a car passed the hut. Once the time was recorded, the further hand would join the first hand so the watch was ready to be stopped when the next car passed.
Legacy in a Watch
The heritage of timekeeping and the technological developments at Brooklands have heavily influenced the watch’s design, creating an enduring piece that reflects the legacy that inspired it.
Brooklands’ history is mirrored within several features of our watch.
The first to notice is the use of bi-compax sub-dials, which represent the ones used by the Brooklands timekeeper’s watches. These dials allow for 12-hour race timing. Because of noise complaints from neighbours, Brooklands races had a maximum duration of twelve hours. Hence, the Brooklands twenty four hour race was called the double twelve. Cars would race for twelve hours before being locked in trackside garages overnight. The final twelve hours of the race being completed the next day.
Additionally, the chronograph hands reflect the hands that were used on the Brooklands Chronograph Villa clock, bringing a key feature of the Brooklands racetrack to your wrist.
A slightly more subtle nod to the historic race track is the one-piece face with a banked perimeter. While it might seem to be a standard curve, it is actually reflective of the curve of the banked track itself. This iconic feature proved to be really challenging for the Swiss manufacturer of the watch face where printing accuracy is essential. Achieving this on a curved face is really tricky.
A final design addition to our watch is the pattern of the Conran Blue 20mm leather strap. This pattern evokes the early tyre tread that would have been on the cars used to race at Brooklands.
The designer of the Triple-Four watch, Sir Terence Conran, took great pride in developing a watch that brought the history of Brooklands and its timekeeping to the present day.
Be Part Of The Legacy
Our watch is a celebration of British motor racing and technological advances. Don’t miss your chance to be a part of that celebration and legacy by ordering one of our limited-edition watches online.